Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
In many respects I'm an old fashioned kind of girl and there are a number of traditions that I adhere to from year to year. At the start of daylight saving, for example, I springclean my flat from top to bottom, and on the day after daylight saving ends I get the bus into town and buy a new batch of stockings and socks for winter. Jack laughed when I woke up on 4 April and declared that it was 'hosiery day'. Off I went and when I returned home later that day I had a nice selection of unpilled socks and run-free tights to show for it. I store them in this pretty embroidered linen bag made by a lady long ago who clearly shares the same traditions as me. Her embroidery is just beautiful.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
The merchandise ranges from crazily expensive antique glassware, books and ceramics to reasonably priced sewing notions, fabric pieces and other pretty items like lace handkerchiefs, still in their boxes, and lovely embroidered linen.
These are two delicate silk swatches with ceramic vase prints. The small print at the bottom of the swatches indicates that they were produced by a cigarette company, although I'm not sure why that would be the case. Perhaps the company sponsored an exhibition of Chinese ceramics back in the day.
I mainly visit this shop because if you ask to see the buttons the very nice lady will produce half a dozen shoe-boxes from beneath the counter, which you can happily root through for a good hour or so trying to decide which ones need to come home with you. I chose a card of twelve red buttons with faceted edges because nice red buttons are very hard to find these days. I also chose two toffee coloured diamond shaped buttons and three unusal green corded buttons that will be great as fastenings for a linen workbag.
As a rule, I'm not generally attracted to 'antique' pieces because really old things tend to give me the creeps, but when the kind woman asked if I'd like to have a look at a box of Victorian lace collars, each one wrapped in acid-free tissue, I found my hands trembling as I carefully removed each piece to examine the incredible handiwork. I imagined how these intricate handmade accessories would have transformed a plain linen garment into an elegant ensemble for wearing to church or for hosting an afternoon tea. The stunning piece, pictured above, with strips of silk in the palest shade of green threaded through the silk crochet, ended up coming home with me. Very indulgent, I know, but the collar fits perfectly and I knew immediately that I would be able to use it as a template to make a contemporary version of it, as I did with the collars I made from old ties and scarves using the antique Amish collar (below) that my sister bought for me at a market in Iowa.
Anyway, designing a new textile accessory will be the perfect Easter holiday project, and I hope to incorporate some pretty fabric covered buttons into my version of the Victorian collar.
Enjoy your weekend!
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Fabric covered buttons make up a very small subset of my button collection. There's something oldy-worldy about fabric buttons that appeals to my inner Victorian, and for the longest time I've wanted to learn how to design and make some of my own. I knew the time was right when I happened upon a needlecraft booklet in the op-shop last week and turned to this page of lovely linen buttons decorated with blackwork stitching:
Blackwork is a form of needlecraft done with threads of a contrasting coloured thread on a linen fabric - usually black thread on a white ground. The technique uses simple running stitches to build up small geometric patterns. Unfortunately, the booklet didn't give any making instructions, so I just worked it out for myself, and I thought it would be nice to show you the process in case you want to have a go at making some covered buttons yourself.
First, I used a cotton reel to mark out circles in pencil on the back of a piece of linen (an old doily) and stitched around the circle to give me a guideline to sew within. I used my smallest embroidery hoop to make the linen nice and taut for stitching.
Using a single strand of black cotton (not too thick / not too thin) I sewed some little geometric patterns with diamonds, dots, dashes and triangles.
After I'd finished the sewing part, I removed the tacked guideline and cut around the circle, leaving a good 1.5cm of fabric to tuck into the back of the button fastening. You can buy button fastenings from most craft shops and the good thing about them is that they are simple to use. I don't have very nimble fingers, so I put a bit of glue around the back of the fastening to assist with the process of securing the fabric in place. Then you simply click on the back piece of the fastening and you're done.
I so enjoyed making these blackwork buttons that I plan to continue and make a whole lot more, and put together sets as presents for my craftily inclined friends to embellish their clothes. In the background of the photo you can see some small envelopes I've made for the buttons. The envelopes are cut from a poster produced for a survey exhibition of Marilyn Sainty's fashion design a few years ago. If you would like an envelope making tutorial, please let me know and I'd be happy to oblige.
Happy button making everyone.